Skills Shortage: Different Means to the Same End

Companies and organizations are pursuing different strategies to address the critical shortage of skilled technical personnel.


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I’d bet that most people who look at the picture above would see only a guitar capo (a capo is a device that clamps around the neck of a guitar to shorten the strings, thereby raising the pitch of the instrument). To be sure, they would see a neat-looking capo with intricate, engraved scroll work—innovative too, as it operates without a spring— but a capo nonetheless. They would probably never consider the engineering, programming and machining skills involved in its design and construction. Still, those skills earned university student Scott Harrel a $1,000 scholarship and a trip to Mastercam/CNC Software’s Tolland, Connecticut headquarters for winning that company’s “Innovator of the Future” competition.

Part of the stated goal of this annual event is to “introduce students to real-world manufacturing.” The underlying idea, of course, is that linking manufacturing to the real world in the minds of young people might attract more to the field. Recent news reveals that isn’t the only strategy organizations and companies are pursuing to address the skills shortage currently plaguing the manufacturing industry.

For its part, The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Education Foundation views partnerships between private companies and public educational institutions as an important means to develop the workforce of the future. To that end, the foundation recently unveiled an initiative that provides employers an opportunity to work with educators to describe real-world job functions and tailor coursework to their very specific skills needs. CAM system developer PartMaker, a division of Delcam, is taking a more direct approach by offering free and reduced-cost training for advanced multi-function machine tools.